The New York Giants won a football game Sunday. That’s the bottom line. It’s what the box score and the standings will say, and what history will reflect. They defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-31.
Really, though, they won something far more important than that.
They won the right to hope.
Things have been mostly bad for the Giants for too long now. Far too long. Something had to change to begin to remove the stench, to give the fans, the players and the entire organization some sense that things were going to get better.
Sunday, they got it.
Daniel Jones is, of course, the biggest part of the story.
The Giants were vilified, laughed at, scorned, ridiculed — however you want to put it — for selecting a kid from Duke some thought should have been a third-round pick sixth overall. Especially after GM Dave Gettleman said it was during the Senior Bowl game — the exhibition game no one cares about — that he fell in “full bloom love” with Jones.
After Sunday, Giants fans everywhere are in full bloom love with their new quarterback.
Pat Shurmur insisted during the week that he wasn’t giving up on 2019 by replacing Eli Manning with Jones. He said that his gut simply told him it was time for the change.
For one exhilarating week, Jones proved him right. With his arms, his legs and his toughness he energized a team that has really been needing a spark for years now.
Jones provided hope that the Giants do indeed have a worthy replacement for Manning and a franchise quarterback who will be able to lead them to future glory. And maybe even to enough victories in the short term to make the Giants relevant for the remainder of the season.
“He played confident all day, especially in the biggest moment,” said tight end Evan Engram. “We kept getting set up for opportunities to go down and take the lead. We got that last opportunity. He was just calm, cool, collected and drove us right down the field.”
If the Giants are going to get back to being a playoff-caliber team, one that can contend for titles, Jones is going to have to take them there. Sunday was a glimpse that perhaps he can.
Look deeper, though.
No quarterback can do everything by himself. While Jones did a lot on Sunday and will end up as pretty much the only story anyone cares to talk about, there were many other signs of hope for the Giants on Sunday.
Tight end Evan Engram had an incredible game with a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown and six catches overall for 113 yards. Without Odell Beckham Jr., Engram is becoming a star.
There were also lots of hopeful signs from many of Gettleman’s draft choices.
- After two rough weeks, DeAndre Baker was aggressive and competitive. He committed a penalty and gave up a couple of catches, but this game was a huge step forward.
- Speaking of huge, 17th overall pick Dexter Lawrence had his first truly impactful performance. He blocked an extra point (hmm, that single point was the Giants’ margin of victory), got his first career sack and had two quarterback hits.
- Rookie linebacker Ryan Connelly had an interception, seven tackles and the defense played well with him calling the signals after Alec Ogletree was injured.
- Oshane Ximines had a sack and a quarterback hit.
- Darius Slayton debuted with three catches for 82 yards, including a 46-yarder. The Giants hoped Slayton could be a big-play receiver when they drafted him in the fifth round, and Sunday he was.
Giants fans needed something to be hopeful about. Now they have it. Jones is a big part of the reason, but absolutely not the only reason.